Many people in the hunting world have heard of the Grand Slam® and the Grand Slam Club™. The fact is that in March 2001 the Grand Slam Club technically became known as Grand Slam Club/Ovis™. We will get to the name change a little later, but first we will look at the history of the original Grand Slam Club.
There have been many misconceptions over the years concerning the Grand Slam Club. Most knowledgeable hunters would readily define the Grand Slam as being one each of the four different North American wild sheep, which of course are the Dall, Stone, bighorn, and desert bighorn. However, this would not be technically correct. One should also realize that all four sheep have to have been taken fair chase by an individual hunter and documented with Grand Slam Club/Ovis. A popular misconception has been to believe that those who have taken all four sheep automatically become members of some informal, almost mythical, fraternity, but such is not the case and never has been.
In April 1948, True Magazine published an article by Grancel Fitz, entitled “Grand Slam in Rams”. Nobody understood its significance until 1955, when Bob Housholder from Phoenix, Arizona, founder of the Grand Slam Club, while working as a guide for Bernard Briggs, realised that with the sheep they were hunting they would have completed a Grand Slam according to Fitz’s article. Curiosity drove him to discover how many other hunters had succeeded in this feat.
Being a freelance writer, Housholder contacted many colleagues to let them know that he was looking for hunters who would have caught the four different sheep, as described by Fitz. After a short time he compiled a list of 20 names. One of his colleagues, by the name of Jack O’Connor, was registered as number one in the Grand Slam Club because he was the first to document the four sheep with Grand Slam Club.
The Grand Slam Club was officially founded in 1956 and it became the most prestigious hunting club in the United States of America.Hence, the Grand Slam Club has been the forerunner of all the other sheep hunting organisations. Among other things, one of the lesser known facts is that the Wild Sheep Foundation or WSF was originally the Midwest Section of the Grand Slam Club.
On 16th September 1989, the founder of the Grand Slam Club, Bob Householder, suffered a serious heart attack, and could not continue with his work at the organisation.
In February 1990, the Club was taken over by Dennis Campbell, a freelance writer and photographer, but above all, sheep hunter and environmentalist.
Under the guidance of Campbell, the club was re-founded as an environmentalist organisation. One of the major goals and objectives of the Club is to be the only organisation to maintain a documentation and registration system of the Grand Slams.
The Club achieved this goal in early 1956, when Housholder started to gather those first 20 names. Since 2009 the Club has documented more than 1,500 legally hunted Grand Slams.
The Grand Slam Club obtained its first official publication when Bob Housholder wrote what he called a “bulletin” in July 1967. Within a short time the single page bulletin increased in size. Sheep hunters throughout the world ferociously devoured every word this hunter and writer published on their beloved wild sheep. Naturally, to hear about other sheep hunters and their feats was an essential part of the “bulletin”.
The last bulletin by Housholder, (issue 74) came out in July 1989, a short time before his heart attack.
In March 1990, Grand Slam Club members received issue 75 of the bulletin, written by the new executive director, Dennis Campbell. He continued with the old format for only three editions. For the first time, in bulletin issue 78, the members of the Grand Slam Club were able to see professionally composed photographs and texts. With the publication of issue 85 in July 1992, the volume finally had a real name: GRAND SLAM. In January 1994, the magazine was completed with coloured covers and photographs.
Now we can move on to explaining why the organisation founded by Householder is currently known as Grand Slam Club Ovis, or GSCO. The four different wild sheep of North America are necessary to qualify for the Grand Slam of North American Wild Sheep, but what can we say about the Altay Argali, which is the world’s largest wild sheep, or about the Marco Polo Argali, which is probably the most nostalgic and, undisputedly, most beautiful sheep in the world ?
In 1996, the executive director of GSC Dennis Campbell realised that too much attention had been paid to the wild sheep of North America by the various magazines published in the North American continent to the detriment of the other wild sheep of the world.
Occasionally the SAFARI magazine of Safari Club International published a few articles on the matter, but it wasn’t enough. Campbell and the other hunters of wild sheep were unhappy about this. Campbell decided to publish a magazine similar to GRAND SLAM, but dedicated to the other wild sheep of the world. Campbell thought it would suffice to call the magazine OVIS, as this is the scientific name for sheep in the world. It took a long time to accomplish this idea, but finally in summer 1997 the first edition of OVIS was published.
The magazine was well accepted by the international community of sheep hunters, who immediately expected the second issue. Campbell received many letters and phone calls complementing him and requesting him to expand on his idea. The Grand Slam Club was so successful that Campbell understood he was going in the right direction when, in 1998, with the second issue of OVIS, a new organisation Ovis, Inc. was founded.
In March 2001, the Executive Committee of the Grand Slam Club and of Ovis voted unanimously to merge the organisations and Grand Slam Club Ovis, or GSCO saw the light. The magazines also merged but kept their identifies different; today members receive 4 three-monthly magazines a year with two different covers, practically 8 magazines.
Besides documenting the Grand Slams of North America, the GSCO continues the practice begun by Ovis, more specifically the recognition of hunters who have completed the Ovis World Slam.
The Ovis World Slam requires the documentation of 12 different species/subspecies of wild sheep in the world. Shortly after GSC and Ovis merged, Campbell realised that the majority of sheep hunters also hunted species of wild goats. This led to Goat World Slam, the registration of 12 different species/subspecies of wild goats in the world.
The Goat World Slam has given these mountain animals the respect they deserved. Many hunters hunt more than the 12 sheep or goats requested to document an Ovis World Slam or a Goat World Slam. For them GSCO has studied recognitions at superior levels with the Ovis World Slam Super 20, Super 30 and Super 40, which require the documentation of 20, 30 and 40 species/subspecies of sheep, and the Goat World Slam Super 20 and Super 30 which require the registration of 20 and 30 species/subspecies of goats.
A further recognition is assigned to those who have completed a Grand Slam, an Ovis World Slam and a Goat World Slam. This combination of all three slams is known as the Triple Slam.
Today, 56 years later, with its 5,000 members, the Grand Slam Club Ovis has become ever stronger and as active as ever.
In Las Vegas, in February 2010, during the Annual Convention of the Grand Slam Club Ovis, Denis Campbell met Ruben Velatta, Italian entrepreneur and international hunter, but above all a man who shares Campbell’s ideas, “yes to difficult mountain hunting, done correctly and documented”. Velatta wants to expand the GSCO to Europe.
On 12th May 2010 the entire executive committee voted unanimously in favour and gave Ruben Velatta the authorisation to set up the Grand Slam Club Ovis European Chapter.
On 25th July 2010 Ruben Velatta and his right-hand man in all activities, Corrado Valsesia, set up the Grand Slam Club Ovis European Chapter or GSOC-EC.
It is not necessary to be hunters to become members of GSCO-EC, all those interested in preserving the wild sheep and wild goats of the world and all animals and nature, are encouraged to join the club.
Founded the Grand Slam Club in 1956.
Is listed as documented Grand Slammer #1.
Took over as Executive Director of the Grand Slam Club in early 1998
The Magazines Grand Slam & Ovis
Founder of the Grand Slam Club in 2001
Founder of Grand Slam Club Ovis - European Chapter 2010